09 February 2011

Real Sports Fans

First, let us start with the impetus for this post.

I went to my usual, singular Atlanta Hawks' game of the season last night. Our Hawks took on Philadelphia's Seventy-Sixers, whose name I will never understand (oh wait...), and lost miserably. The tempo of the game was set pretty early on, as it took the Hawks about five minutes to score their first goal, which led to them trailing by 30 points towards the end of the first period (a differential they would not be able to make up). It was pretty brutal but unemotional as I am the most fairweather of Hawks fans, and NBA fans in general. However it's the same kind of crap you hate to see of any home team like, say, the Thrashers.

This kind of poor performance by a professional sports team brings out the real sport fans.


I should rephrase that previous statement: Any kind of poor performance by any professional sports team brings out the "real" sport fans. In short, real sport fans love to bitch...actually, real people love to bitch.

I wanted to use this b word for the duration of this post but, in an effort to keep it PG, the word employed shall be "whine" (quetch is another good one) henceforth.

So sitting in our luxurious, court-side seats, watching the Hawks get trounced, my fellow fans are not so much fans as they are out of work, out of shape coaches who have never actually held a coaching position in any kind or form (save, perhaps, on their kids' pre-k soccer team). Regardless of their utterly unqualified situation, they continue to belt out criticisms and poorly worded suggestions such as "move the ball!" or "screen defense!" or "that guy needs some counseling, he needs to stop whining and realize how good he is". While the galletazo continues, they just get more ornery, complaining about how bad the team sucks, what they continue to do wrong, how this is an utter disappointment, and how unbelievable it is that "they expect us to renew our season tickets when the team plays this way".

Perhaps such vocal disappointment is warranted when a winning franchise plays like slugs and you spent a certain amount of time and money to come and see them play. But when a losing franchise keeps losing is where the rubber meets the road. Somehow, the folks on the Atlanta Thrashers message boards have got my poor team's problems all figured out:

  • the coaching staff does not know how to make adjustments or produce results
  • the players are lazy and dispirited
  • the ownership will not put up the money to hire competent, competitive personnel
  • the team is too bad to support (save, apparently, for daily postings raging about how much they suck)
Even when the Thrashers do well the celebration is short.

So how much of this is warranted in sport? How much do we expect from a professional sport organization? What does it mean to be a true fan of a losing franchise? I don't have the answers to such questions, I just know people love to whine.

One thing I've learned from my time in LotRO is that "if you give a man a sack of gold he'll complain about how heavy it is". People in general are ridiculously whiney, but perhaps nonesomuch as online gamers. Every time content is released for LotRO, or really any other online game, there is a pretty clean 60/40 split for people that just know it will suck and that all the changes are stupid and the content is not enough. Politics will probably never be a positive thing in this country because everyone, pundits and voters alike, are too busy pissing and moaning to really get anything done. Even the seemingly grassroots activist election of so many Tea Party republicans this fall was largely the result of whining, and now there is already whining about those who were whined into office scarcely a month ago.

Maybe I'm too optimistic. Maybe the best kind of love is complaining about how this thing you love so much has to be improved again and again. Maybe it is beyond human capacity to enjoy something the way it is. Maybe it's an American thing: we have been pushing things in every conceivable direction nonstop for the last 150 years or so. I mean, Egypt sat under several oppressive regimes for a few good decades before doing anything about it. Maybe the revolution has just never stopped here and since we can't/won't overthrow our government (that was taken care of some time ago) we just try to revolutionize everything else.

I don't have any answers. All I know is that I may call my Thrashers to forecheck when they don't dump the puck deep enough on a powerplay, I may yell unsavory phrases at them when they give up the neutral zone or refuse to fight along the boards, I may even shake my head in sore disappointment when they blow a substantial lead, but the whining ends there. Games, sports especially, are meant to be enjoyed. So I will choose to utilize my pretension by complaining about complainers, not the things they complain about

1 comment:

Andrew Isley said...

Nice post. I was on GameFAQs a few days about and saw a quote that said something like: "no true fan-base will ever be happy. Ever." And it is so true. I complain about the people and hobbies I care about the most.

I get really upset when the Bucs lose a game. It can ruin my day.